A Few Conversations on the State of Cleantech

I’ve had a number of conversations in the past couple of weeks about the state of cleantech and the various sectors that make it up.

No real answers, just food for discussion.

The IPO market – a few threads that keep perking up.  A need for the IPO market in cleantech to get healthy.  A general sesne of relief that Solyndra did not get out.  Massive skepticism over Tesla’s prospects.  All hopes pinned to Silver Spring.

Carbon / Climate change – determination that the oil spill shall not go in vain, so to speak.  Jaded lack of awareness about cap and trade and carbon globally replacing the pre-Copenhagen hype, despite that the underlying policies are getting more an more rational, and more and more real work and debate is occuring.  Bifurcated Over $1 Billion in smart money acquisitions in carbon in the last 9 months (JP Morgan, Barclays, Reuters, ICE, Bloomberg), the summer solider and sunshine patriots have bailed for now.

Venture capital – growing unease that the 2 and 20 managed money model is broken, and especially broken in cleantech.  Growing disbelief at the “picking winners” strategy and the massive hundreds of millions per company from the DOE in its loan guarantee program – inflation comes to cleantech?

A strengthening sense that like CNG was crowded out of the transport discussion by PHEV and ethanol a few years ago, EV and PHEVs are crowding out a market very jaded with the always over the horizon promise of biofuels to replace corn and sugar cane ethanol.

More discussions on water use and technology than I have had in years.  But still no answers.

A sense from those who know, that the US shale gas and the BP Horizon spill have the potential to shift the whole debate.

Or maybe it’s just me projecting my feelings on everyone I talk to, or ignoring those saying stupid things!  Since I didn’t do a real poll, the world will never now.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, and the Chairman of Carbonflow.  He is the longtime chief blogger of

Nissan LEAF Electric Car will start at $32,780

(March 30, 2010)

Sale, Lease and Reservation Details for the Nissan EV

Nissan announced U.S. pricing for the 2011 Nissan LEAF electric car, which becomes available for purchase or lease at Nissan dealers in select markets in December and nationwide in 2011. Nissan will begin taking consumer reservations for the Nissan LEAF April 20, ahead of other electric cars in this price range.

Including the $7,500 federal tax credit for which the Nissan LEAF will be fully eligible, the consumer’s after-tax net value of the vehicle will be $25,280. The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2011 all-electric, zero-emission Nissan LEAF is $32,780, which includes three years of roadside assistance. Additionally, there is an array of state and local incentives that may further defray the costs and increase the benefits of owning and charging a Nissan LEAF – such as a $5,000 statewide tax rebate in California; a $5,000 tax credit in Georgia; a $1,500 tax credit in Oregon; and carpool-lane access in some states, including California.

As a result of aggressive pricing and the availability of the $7,500 federal tax credit whose benefit is immediately included, Nissan will be able to offer a monthly lease payment beginning at $349, not including state or local incentives, which could further reduce the net cost of the Nissan LEAF.

The vehicle at the standard SV trim level is well-equipped with a variety of standard features, including an advanced navigation system and Internet/smart phone connectivity to the vehicle, including pre-heat/pre-cool and charging control. Nissan LEAF is equipped with energy-efficient LED headlights and makes extensive use of recycled and recyclable materials, such as seat fabric, instrument panel materials, and front- and rear-bumper fascias. Other standard amenities include Bluetooth connectivity; Intelligent-key with push button start; Sirius/XM satellite radio capabilities and roadside assistance. Safety features include vehicle dynamic control (stability control), traction control and six airbags. The SL trim level, available for an additional $940 (MSRP), adds features including rearview monitor, solar panel spoiler, fog lights, and automatic headlights.

Reservations on April 20

In order to ensure a one-stop-shop customer experience, Nissan is carefully managing the purchase process from the first step, when consumers sign up on, until the customer takes the Nissan LEAF home and plugs it into a personal charging dock.

■Nissan begins accepting reservations on April 20 first from people who have signed up on, and, after a brief introductory period, to all interested consumers.
■Consumers will be required to pay a $99 reservation fee, which is fully refundable.
■Reserving a Nissan LEAF ensures consumers a place in line when Nissan begins taking firm orders in August, as well as access to special, upcoming Nissan LEAF events.
■Rollout to select markets begins in December, with nationwide availability in 2011.

Charging Equipment

In tandem with the purchase process, Nissan will offer personal charging docks, which operate on a 220-volt supply, as well as their installation. Nissan is providing these home-charging stations, which will be built and installed by AeroVironment, as part of a one-stop-shop process that includes a home assessment.

■The average cost for the charging dock plus installation will be $2,200.
■Charging dock and installation are eligible for a 50 percent federal tax credit up to $2,000.
■Using current national electricity averages, Nissan LEAF will cost less than $3 to “fill up.”
■Nissan LEAF also will be the sole vehicle available as part of The EV Project, which is led by EV infrastructure provider eTec, a division of ECOtality, and will provide free home-charging stations and installation for up to 4,700 Nissan LEAF owners in those markets.

This major announcement gives Nissan a lead over Toyota, General Motors, Ford and others that will also be offering electric cars. Top 10 Electric Car Makers 2011 U.S. Offerings

Batteries ‘R’ Us

by Richard T. Stuebi

Of all the cleantech technology sectors, the one I can least keep track of is batteries. For those of you who want to keep pulse of this dynamic arena, a new blog called This Week in Batteries is just what you might be looking for.

The host of this blog is Venkat Srinivasan, who is part of the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies (BATT) Program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, so he should be pretty near the center of the action in the battery world — at least as it pertains to electric vehicle applications.

Srinivasan’s most recent post is a nice riff exposing the absurdity of extrapolating Moore’s Law for semiconductors to other realms of technology advancement — as if forever-continuing exponential improvements won’t bump up against the laws of physics.

Richard T. Stuebi is a founding principal of the advanced energy initiative at NorTech, where he is on loan from The Cleveland Foundation as its Fellow of Energy and Environmental Advancement. He is also a Managing Director in charge of cleantech investment activities at Early Stage Partners, a Cleveland-based venture capital firm.

Plugging Electric Vehicles

by Richard T. Stuebi

Much has been written about the planned release by General Motors (NYSE: GM) of the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. When GM launches the vehicle, now slated for late 2010, it plans to sell tens of thousands of them.

As profiled in an article in the August 24 issue of Forbes, the bigger mover in the electric drive vehicles game looks to be Nissan (NASD: NSANY), which is investing several billion dollars to ramp up for producing 300,000-400,000 electric vehicles within a few years. Its entry model is the Leaf, a five-passenger hatchback that it aims to sell in the U.S. by late 2010, at a price point of about $30,000.

A key aspect of Nissan’s surge into electric vehicles is its joint venture with NEC, for their lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The NEC battery design employs a laminated structure that improves cooling performance, which has been a major stumbling point for the use of Li-ion batteries. Indeed, Nissan plans to sell these batteries to other automakers.

Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, is by his own words “extremely bullish on zero-emission vehicles.” He is bold enough to predict that 10% of world auto sales will be all-electric within 10 years.

An excellent overview of the electric vehicle realm, entitled “The Electric-Fuel-Trade Acid Test”, was published in the September 5 issue of The Economist. In this article, not only were several of the new electric vehicle makers (e.g., Tesla Motors, Venturi, BYD Auto, SAIC Motors) and battery developers (A123 Systems, Boston Power) put into context, but some all-new technologies and business models enabled by vehicle electrification were highlighted.

For instance, consider the case of Better Place. This California-based firm is launching a business to serve local auto markets with a network of stations that will swap out depleted batteries with fully-charged ones within seconds, and charge the spent batteries for reuse in other vehicles, thereby offering customers a quick recharge akin to a refill at a gas station. Pricing will be akin to “rental” on the battery, until it is returned to a station to be replaced by a fresh one, which will also be “rented”. Each stop at a station thus implies a customer outlay on the same order of magnitude as a tank of gasoline or diesel.

Then there is the case of Michelin, which is developing something called the Active Wheel. Beyond just the tire, Michelin is aiming to embed motors, brakes, suspension and associated systems into wheels, thereby distributing physical control to each wheel and allowing heavy items such as springs and transmissions to be entirely eliminated from the vehicle. Not only will this (theoretically, at least) improve auto performance, but it will reduce weight to increase energy efficiency and possibly lower capital and operating costs of vehicles.

The possibilities for an entirely new industry to emerge in providing and supporting electric vehicle markets are becoming clearer. Earlier this year, a study (accessible here) commissioned by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) – funded by The Cleveland Foundation, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and First Energy (NYSE: FE) – assessed the potential for Northeast Ohio to become a major player in the electric drive vehicle industry. The study makes indicates that many thousands of jobs are at stake for the Cleveland region – but only if (1) the U.S. takes actions to accelerate the penetration of electric vehicles in the transportation sector, and at least as importantly (2) Northeast Ohio organizes itself to more earnestly pursue the business and technology opportunities associated with electric drive vehicles.

This economic potential is not just for Northeast Ohio. Clearly in response to the downturn of the American auto industry, the Obama Administration has made the state of Michigan a major recipient of its largesse, allocating half of a recent $2.4 billion in grants to stimulate electric vehicle and battery production. As reported in the Forbes article, Nissan’s U.S. battery manufacturing will occur in Tennessee, supported by a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Energy. A123 and Boston Power are both based in Massachusetts. Along with Tesla, Fisker Automotive – both supported by the Silicon Valley mega venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins – are based in California.

Of course, not everyone is enamored with electric vehicles. In the same issue in which it profiles Nissan’s electric vehicle strategy, Forbes’ editor William Baldwin writes a skeptical opinion about the cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

When considered solely as an approach for reducing emissions, perhaps electric vehicles aren’t the absolute best solution. However, when one also considers the economic revitalization possibilities, as well as the imperative for reducing reliance on oil (from unstable and unfriendly sources around the globe), electric vehicles seem far more worthy of plugging.

As the Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at the Cleveland Foundation, Richard T. Stuebi is on loan to NorTech as a founding Principal in its advanced energy initiative. He is also a Managing Director at Early Stage Partners, and is the founder of NextWave Energy.

Al Gore Prioritizes Energy Innovation

By John Addison (10/12/09). Vice President Al Gore is optimistic about a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen that includes the United States and China. During his keynote speech at the Society of Environmental Journalists Conference (SEJ) in Madison, Wisconsin, he acknowledged that negotiations are going slowly, because climate change is complex and involves consensus of almost all nations, but that a new agreement is likely.

The need for a global agreement is urgent as the burning of coal and oil heat the earth. Melting glaciers and depleted aquifers make healthy water scarce for more Americans and unavailable for a billion people. Draughts are causing damage to many states. Lack of water affects the ability to grow food. Interrelated eco-systems are showing their stress and the problems are starting to get visible on Main Street. Mr. Gore observed, “Never before in human history has a single generation been asked to make such difficult and consequential decisions.”

Mr. Gore stated, “We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.”

At SEJ, I asked Vice President Gore about the most promising innovations to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Mr. Gore identified a number of areas where Americans are innovating.

Energy efficiency tops his list for innovation that is making an immediate impact. Many new buildings have a fraction of the greenhouse gas emissions of the buildings they replace due to innovative design, materials, windows, and water management. Older buildings are made more energy efficient with better insulation.

Mr. Gore identified wasted heat as an underestimated opportunity. He sees room for significant innovation in combined heat and power and in the reduction of wasted heat.

Super Grid will Spur Innovation

He sees the super grid as an opportunity for a high level of efficiency. The super grid envisions a national network of high capacity electricity transmission. It would include energy storage, high reliability, and smart grid intelligence. High voltage lines have far less energy loss than lower capacity. A super grid could deliver much of America’s needed energy from untapped wind that blows in middle states from the Dakotas to Texas. Super Grid Wikipedia Description

Mr. Gore feels that a super grid could bring a transformation comparable to the Internet. The super grid and smart grid technology is already attracting major investments from firms like KPCB where Al Gore devotes part of his time as a partner. KPCB Greentech Portfolio He pointed to energy storage and demand response as major super grid areas of opportunity.

A portfolio of renewable energy solutions can power the nation according to Mr. Gore. Wind supplied 40 percent of the incremental energy added in the United States in 2008. Concentrating solar power is another renewable that is promising where up to 15 hours of energy storage, such as molten salt, can be used. Vice President Gore sees the greatest innovation in solar photovoltaics as a “distributed distribution architecture” is put in place.

Enhanced geothermal at one to two kilometers underground has the potential to meet our need for baseload grid power. Gore said, “There is an estimated 35,000 year supply of enhanced geothermal to meet U.S. energy needs.” This industry will benefit from the drilling and drill bit innovation existing in the oil and gas industries.

Historic Transformation of Automobile

In the future the need for getting baseload power from coal will be diminished by grid energy storage innovation. Gore said, “There will be a historic transformation of automobile fleets to and plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles. That vehicle fleet will serve as a massively distributed battery.” Electric Vehicle Reports

He continued, “Innovation of battery storage is likely to be extremely significant.”
Video of Vice President Gore’s discussion of energy solutions.

New Climate Agreement in Copenhagen

“We have all the tools to solve three or four climate crises.” Vice-President Gore expressed a level of optimism that surprised a number of the 500 journalists in attendance. He is optimistic that the Senate will approve some form of the Boxer-Kerry legislation and that it will be Conference Committee pending when Copenhagen convenes. It will have compromises that will discourage some environmentalists and some business interests. Gore said, “The large number of defections from the National Chamber of Commerce is a sign that business leaders want to be part of the solution.”

He reminded those concerned about a climate crisis that in 1987 the Montreal Protocol was also criticized as too weak. In Montreal, Canada, on September 16, 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed into agreement by 24 major countries of the world, including the United States. These countries recognized that it was critical to be leaders, rather than wait years for all nations to agree. The agreement was ratified and then signed by President Ronald Reagan.

A process for nations to phase-out production of dangerous CFCs and halons was established. Developing countries were giving extra years to comply. Years later the agreement was strengthened in Copenhagen. Now 191 nations have agreed to the Montreal Protocol and are phasing-out the destructive gases from China to Chile and from India to Indonesia.

The Montreal Protocol is proof that the major nations of the world can agree to stop destroying our atmospheric shield.

A new climate agreement in Copenhagen would accelerate innovation and growing commercial success of efficient buildings, fuel efficient transportation, a transformative super gird, and renewable energy.

Mr. Gore’s new book – Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis – will be available November 3. It will include the important role of innovation in reducing our dependency on fossil fuel.

The complete audio recording of the speech can be heard on the Society of Environmental Journalists.

By John Addison, author of the book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Ford Plans both Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrids

By John Addison (8/24/09). Ford (F) is now taking orders for electric vehicles. By 2011, the Ford Motor Company will start taking orders for the new Ford Focus EV. Beyond 2011, Ford will offer the popular Focus in a variety of affordable options including hybrid-electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and battery electric-vehicle (EV).

Although Nissan (NSANY) will take an early lead with EVs, and GM will beat Ford to market with a plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, Ford will be fighting for market leadership with both electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

The Ford EV roadmap in this article is based on my interviews with Susan Cischke, Ford Group Vice President, Mike Tinskey, Plug-in 2009 Conference presentations, and my discussions with some of Ford’s utility partners.

2010 orders are likely to come from municipalities and other government agencies that will use the new Transit Connect light-duty van in a variety of applications from city maintenance to on-demand transit. Deliveries of these electric vehicles, made for Ford by Smith Electric Vehicles (TAN.L), will start in 2010. Transit Connect may also do well with small businesses and local delivery fleets.

It is the Ford Focus EV that captures the imagination of mainstream Americans eager to secure a zero-emission vehicle that they can take on freeways and travel up to 100 miles between charges. The new Ford Focus EV will be a 4-door sedan that seats five.

The Focus EV will be made in America. The lithium battery maker and specs are to be announced. Ford has expressed a preference for a battery whose cells that are made in America. Ford’s final battery decision may be influenced by federal funding.

Ford’s additional PHEV Plans in Clean Fleet Report.

Ford is investing $550 million to transform its Michigan Assembly Plant into a lean, green and flexible manufacturing complex that will build Ford’s next-generation Focus global small car along with a new battery-electric version of the Focus for the North American market. Both will be based on a new global C platform. The EV is being developed in partnership with Magna International (MGA).

Ford has been actively testing the plug-in hybrid Ford Escape with a number of utilities and partners. These tests have helped establish the standards necessary for electric vehicle success, such as the J1772 electrical connection that will be standard on Ford EVs.

Thanks to a new DOE award of $30 million, 50/50 matched, a total of $60 million will go into expanded deployment of Ford plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, and infrastructure. Early pilots of the Ford Focus EV are likely to be part of this.

The new electric vehicles are smart EVs. Customers will be provided with charging options to save money. Drivers will be connected with traffic and location services and assisted with electronics that make driving safer. Passengers will have more information and entertainment options than ever. Like the new smartphones from Apple, Blackberry, Palm and others, the value of a full value of a smart car is in the networks. Just as smartphones can be purchased at a discount with network subscriptions, we may see similar offerings from car makers and their partners.

Subscription models are being explored where vehicles like the Ford Focus EV could be purchased, with the lithium battery and charging being offered as a subscription. Ford, Nissan, and other automakers are discussing such possibilities with electric utilities, financial institutions and others. Should a utility or JV own the batteries, then it would be easier to repurpose lithium batteries into less demanding stationary power back-up applications after the batteries decline in charge after several years of use.

Possibilities include 50/50 joint ventures and long-term secure financing. Because utilities are regulated, public utility commissions will be involved in approving new business models. If everyone gets there act together, which is certainly an “if,” the customer could be a big winner with an affordable EV and subscription offerings that cost less than monthly gasoline costs.

Under the leadership of CEO Alan Mulally, Ford has shown a new flexibility in partnering with suppliers, vehicle integrators, battery JV, electric utilities, financial institutions, and even information technology firms like Microsoft (MSFT). With global platforms, smarter cars, richer partnerships, and greater speed to market, customers will see some interesting new offerings in the next two years.

By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

Smart Electric Vehicles and Smart Grids

By John Addison (8/20/09). The new freeway-speed electric vehicles will also be smart electric vehicles (SEV). They will be smart about using energy inside the vehicle so that it can go 100 miles between charges. The SEV will be smart about navigation options that consider your preference for getting somewhere fast or traveling with minimal energy use. SEVs will be full of electronics to entertain passengers, like kids in the back seat.

They will be smart about charging to meet driver preferences for saving money or charging more quickly. Smart electric vehicles ideally use a smart grid for charging. The electric utilities see the electric vehicle as part of the new smart grid which uses information technology to make the electric grid efficient, reliable, distributed, and interoperable. Years ago, mainframe computers with dumb terminals gave way to network computing. Similar improvements are now underway with the electric grid.

At the Plug-in 2009 Conference and Exposition in Long Beach, I joined thousands in seeing new electric vehicles, new smart charging stations, and joining presentations by leading auto makers, utilities, early fleet users, and sustainable city leaders from Southern California Edison (EIX), SDGE (SRE), AQMD, EPRI, and many others.

At the Plug-in Conference, the new Nissan Leaf (NSANY) got a lot of deserved attention. By the end of 2011, Nissan may deliver as many as 10,000 of these. Most will be delivered where utility and other partners have committed to complete programs to install garage, employer, and other public charging stations.

The new 2010 Nissan Leaf is a comfortable compact hatchback that seats five. Clean Fleet Report’s test drives of Nissan EV prototypes demonstrated plenty of acceleration. The Nissan Leaf is powered by 24kWh of lithium-ion batteries. The Leaf has a range of about 100 miles. In 8 hours you are good for another 100 miles with a Level 2 AC200V home-use charger; in 26 minutes you can be 80 percent charged with a Level 3 DC 50kW quick charger.

Transportation expert, Antonio Benecchi a Partner with Roland Berger forecasts that plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles will capture 10 to 20 percent of the auto market by 2030. The speed of adoption will depend on cost and early customer experience. If the lifetime cost of owning and operating an electric vehicle is less than a comparable gasoline powered one, 20 percent could be low by 2030.

When you get an iPhone, Nokia, or Blackberry, the cost of the smartphone depends on the type of subscription plan you have with the wireless carrier. Similarly, over the next few years, automakers and their partners may explore different business models such as:

· Vehicle purchased with battery leased
· Vehicle, battery, and energy for charging are all subscribed
· EV and charging are part of carsharing plans
· Integrated mobility offerings will include an EV

For example, the Nissan Leaf might be offered by a dealer for under $30,000 with battery and charging offered on a subscription plan by Better Place or various electric utilities.

If charging and subscription plans are kept simple, consumers will love it. If consumers must sign for different plans as they go to different cities, EVs will be a turn-off. Early cell phone users rebelled against complicated plans and big surprise “roaming” charges.

Standards are being put in place so that auto makers, charging station providers, and electric utilities will be compatible. A key standard is automotive SAE J1772, which standardizes the electrical connection, current flow, and some communication between smart vehicle and smart charger. This standard is compatible with important advanced metering smart home electric standards such as Smart Energy 2.0.

EV customers will be able to check on how much their EV batteries are charged through a web browser, their smart phone, or by looking at their vehicle dash. The networking and software is there, so that they could look at monthly vehicle use and charges.

Electric utility operators will be able to track, manage, and forecast EV electricity use thanks to smart charging stations with electric utility meter chips built in such as Coulomb ChargePoint Networked Charging Stations and ETEC (ETLY.OB – disclosure: author owns this stock), who has already installed over 5,500 charging stations. ETEC will be installing over 12,500 new charging stations thanks to a matching grant of almost $100 million from DOE.

I am on the wait list to buy the Nissan Leaf. When I get a new EV or PHEV, I would be glad to agree to a subscription plan that would save me $100 per month if I would agree to have my vehicle not charge during peak-demand hours. We’ll see if I am given that kind of option. Thanks to software services from GirdPoint and others, the technology is there to plug-in and having charging managed by user preferences and subscription agreements.

Utilities could shape demand to off-peak. Utilities could use EVs for spinning reserves and peak power using vehicle-to-grid (V2G). Dr. Jasna Tomic with CALSTART estimates that the national grid would only need 7 percent additional capacity to off-peak charge 100 million electric vehicles. Those same vehicles could provide 70 percent of the national grid’s needed peak power. Smart grid upgrades, customer price signals and subscription agreements could enable growing use of V2G in the coming decade.

Smart vehicles and smart grids create a trillion dollar opportunity for incumbents and innovators. The opportunity has attracted GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, and hundreds of other auto makers. It has attracted the world’s largest electric utilities and grid operators. This smart grid “Internet” for electricity now has devoted teams inside IBM, Google, Cisco, Microsoft, and other information technology giants.

The smart electric vehicle is symbiotic with the smart grid. The information communication technology is there. It is the business models and customer experience that count. Get ready for the most comfortable and intelligent ride of your life.

By John Addison. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at conferences. He is the author of the new book – Save Gas, Save the Planet – now selling at Amazon and other booksellers.

The World’s First Clean Motocross Race On Electric Bikes

by Cristina Foung

Last Saturday and Sunday, April 4th to 5th, about 50 motocross riders participated in the first 24 hour long endurance race….on electric motorcycles. The event, 24 Hours of Electricross, was hosted by Zero Motorcycles, the creators of the Zero X motorcycle, an off-road electric bike, and the soon-to-come Zero S street legal motorcycle. From 11 a.m. on Saturday to 11 a.m. on Sunday, 10 teams competed to see which could complete the most laps on one Zero X motorcycle. With a maximum of 3 batteries, the teams had to consider their speed, use of their braking systems, and how often to switch out and charge their batteries. As the motorcycles are all electric, their energy consumption compared to gas-powered bikes is amazingly low. In fact, only $100 worth of electricity was needed to power all 10 bikes for the entire race. To make the event even cleaner, Akeena Solar provided solar charging stations on Saturday.

I was lucky enough to check out the race down at the San Jose fair grounds Sunday morning. The riders and the Zero Motorcycles staff were plenty tired by that time but the leading team Hotchalk was just shy of breaking 1000 laps – or 500 miles. The 10 teams came from the San Francisco Bay Area, New Mexico, even Canada and the UK. And all told, the race was the largest of its kind (in fact, it was the first of its kind) and set the Guinness World Record for the largest all-electric off road race. Each team was formed around one Zero X motorcycle and the love of electric bikes.

I chatted with Scott Snaith, the captain of the 50 Cycles team who came all the way from England to participate in the race. Snaith and are soon to be dealers for the Zero motorcycles in the UK. He said, “We’ve been selling bikes for about five years…this is the sort of technology we’ve been waiting for in regards to the battery technology and the motor.”

Given that the bikes are electric (and therefore, sublimely quiet compared to gas-powered bikes), there was just a slight whir or hum around the track. The lack of noise was the reason the race was allowed to continue for 24 hours, even with the close proximity to luxury apartment buildings. And in fact, when the racing Zero X bikes were put to the test on a decibel meter, they came in below the level of normal conversation. Snaith said all the riders thought it was “nice to be able to talk during the race.”

I also got a chance to talk to Neal Saiki, the inventor and founder of Zero Motorcycles, while he was taking a bit of a break from helping out the teams make small repairs to their bikes. He said the motorcycles had been holding up really well and all the riders were still going fast (the Zero X gets up to 50 MPH top speed; and on the motocross track, most riders were getting up to about 30 MPH). Neal said, “[The event is] setting a world record and really setting a trend because you can talk to all these racers out here. They had a great time and everyone is just astounded with how fast they’re going on these motorcycles and how durable they are, lasting 24 hours. So it’s really a a great thing and without a lot of noise and no pollution, it’s really changing the way we do racing.”

To check out some footage from the race, more of Neal and Scott’s interviews, and a quick walk around the Zero X, check out my original post about the Zero Motorcycles’ 24 Hours of Electricross at the Green Home Huddle.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, organic personal care, and other green products.

Nissan Takes EV Lead with Charged Partnerships

By John Addison (11/24/08). Nissan is serious about being the leader in electric vehicles by taking a three-step approach: (1) developing a charging infrastructure, (2) seeding the market with EVs in 2010, and (3) leading in EV manufacturing volume in 2012. The initial vehicles show-off a new body design, be freeway speed, and have a 100-mile range.

In August, Nissan unveiled all-electric and hybrid electric prototype vehicles, both powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries from the Nissan-NEC joint-venture, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation.

Friday, at a Nissan reception, I discussed product strategy with Mark Perry, Nissan Director of Product Planning, and with Alan Buddendeck, Vice President of Corporate Communications. Nissan is serious about being the leader in electric vehicles. Nissan will be ready with exciting electric vehicles in 2010. They expect the market to take only two years from that point to be ready for volume buying. A public charging infrastructure will be important to many buyers.

Nissan will face serious electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid competition from Toyota, GM, BMW, Mercedes, Think, Tesla, and a number of exciting smaller innovators. Nissan plans on lead by focusing on zero emission vehicles (ZEV), rather than focus on plug-in hybrids. Longer term, Nissan expects to see many urban centers, such as London, where only ZEV will be exempt from expensive daily congestion fees.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has begun ZEV initiatives in Europe and Asia including Israel, Denmark, Portugal, Monaco, Japan, and with French electric utility company EDF. Now they are forging alliances in the United States.

With Nissan USA located in Tennessee, it is seeing strong support there for a statewide charging infrastructure. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen stated, “Our clean-energy future depends on our ability to find real strategies for encouraging Tennesseans to adopt a zero-emission mindset.” The state is focused on heavily trafficked Interstate 24 and Interstate 65 corridors.

“As the nation’s largest public power supplier, TVA is looking forward to being part of this project to explore the potential of electric vehicles,” said TVA Chairman William Sansom in joining the Tennessee initiative. “Electric vehicles could put electricity to work overnight, or off-peak, when other power needs are lower.”

Across the nation, Oregon is one of 17 states that is addressing growing climate problems by implementing carbon emission cap-and-trade. Oregon is part of the West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative. Nissan has committed to supply ZEVs to the state of Oregon and to help promote an EV Charging Network. Active in the Oregon initiative is Portland General Electric (PGE), which has installed six charging stations this year.

California is also a member of West Coast Governors Global Warming Initiative. California, as the world’s third largest consumer of petroleum, has a compelling need to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles.

The mayors of San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland announced a $1 billion project to build a regional network of electric car charging stations. An important part of the regional network is the promotion of harmonized standards across the region, which should encourage the participation of many automakers and charging infrastructure providers. The Bay Area initiative will include expedited permits, financial incentives, and a roll-out plan for charging equipment. Although the network investment is estimated to ultimately reach $1 billion, the process of developing public and private investment is just beginning.

The Bay Area initiative is endorsed by innovators such as Better Place, which has raised over $100 million to provide a charging infrastructure and to provide batteries using a subscription model.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger supported the project, “This type of public-private partnership is exactly what I envisioned when we created the first-ever low carbon fuel standard and when the state enacted the zero emissions vehicle program.”

The Mayors’ announcement could create a national model. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi supported the announcement, “Promoting the use of electric vehicles will help forward our nation’s goals to achieve energy independence, to protect the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to boost the economy by providing jobs in an emerging manufacturing sector.”

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. In March 2009 his new book, Save Gas, Save the Planet, will be published.

Want something fast (and clean) between your legs? Try the GPR-S.

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: Electric Motorsport GPR-S Electric Motorcycle

What is it?
The GPR-S from Electric Motorsport is an all-electric motorcycle with lithium batteries and a light weight frame (250 pounds or so). The bike has a 14.2 kilowatt electric drive system and has a top speed of 70 miles per hour. The bike has a recharge time of 1.5 hours and gets 35-60 miles per charge.

Why is it better?
Electric motorcycles and scooters have a much higher well-to-wheel efficiency rating than gasoline powered bikes. Additionally, they have no tail-pipe emissions and therefore qualify as zero emissions vehicles. They’re also much quieter than traditional motorcycles, which for me, is a bonus. There’s no reason to add to the noise pollution.

The GPR-S is a great bike as it’s light weight (I was able to right the bike with no problems) and has motorcycle styling, which definitely appeals to a different demographic than the more scooter-like Vectrix. It seats two people quite comfortably, has decent acceleration, and is very easy to ride, given that there’s no gearbox or clutch. It would make a great learner’s bike.

Where can you find it?
You can find the GPR-S for $8000 at Electric Motorsport’s website (or if you’re in the Bay Area, they’re located in Oakland, CA).

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, organic personal care, and other green products.

A lightning bolt Chevy Volt

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the Chevy Volt extended-range electric vehicle

What is it?
The Chevy Volt is being called an “extended-range electric vehicle.” And while the wheels are turned directly by electricity, there is a small gasoline engine which will kick in to generate said electricity. In any case, now that that’s clear, the Chevy Volt has a lithium-ion battery, a range of 40 miles without kicking on the gasoline engine (although some say it’s probably closer to 32 miles), a range of maybe 360 miles with the ICE going, and a top speed of 120 MPH.

Why is it better?
Well, it’s no Tesla Roadster (which I was fortunate to take a little spin in two weekends ago), but it’s a pretty nice looking car. Its 4-door sedan body is definitely more practical for most folks looking for a cleaner vehicle that can get them (and their stuff) from point A to point B.

As far as efficiency goes, some estimates say the Volt will get about 100 MPG. When it comes to saving the world (think global warming and polar bears), the Volt is a step in the right direction for sure. Of course, there’s some debate over whether or not the Volt should be considered a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle, but in either case, it’s a technology worth exploring. And given that the Volt has a production date of 2010, that should give utilities some time to figure out how to deal with more vehicles plugging into the grid.

Where can you find it?

Come 2010, keep your fingers crossed that you’ll find the Chevy Volt at your local Chevrolet for somewhere between $30 and $48k. In the meantime, feel free to sign yourself up on the unofficial wait list.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

It Only Has 3 Wheels But It’s Awfully Zippy

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: Green Vehicles Triac

What is it?
The Triac is a three-wheel electric vehicle. It has a top speed of 80 MPH and a 100-mile range per charge. It takes 6 hours to charge fully.

Why is it better?
Yes, it’s yet another electric vehicle. I know I’ve already told you about the Tesla, the cityZENN, the Vectrix scooter, and the RMartin EVD scooter. So I’ll refrain from extolling the green virtues of electric cars again.

I will say that the Triac is highway speed and looks to be one of the first to hit the road. And according to their specs, an optional capacity-boost battery pack will also add an additional 25% to the range.

Green Vehicles recently announced that they expect to produce 50 to 100 vehicles per month come this September. By Q2 of 2009, they should be at 100 to 200 per month.

It also looks pretty zippy in the ad spot.

Where can you find it?
You can reserve your Triac using this reservation form. You’ll need to deposit a 10% reservation fee for the $19,995 base model.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

A Scooter That Can Really Scoot

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the RMartin EVD Electric Scooter

What is it?
The RMartin EVD is an all-electric scooter. Its 3000-watt motor gives you a top speed of 50 MPH and it boasts a range of 40 to 50 miles per charge (although I’m told the manual actually says you can get 75 miles if you go 19 miles per hour). It accelerates from 0 to 50 in 8 seconds. It also recharges in 6 to 10 hours.

Why is it better?
Okay, okay, you caught me. Yet again, I find myself writing about something cool and electric – yes, I know I did that here, here, here, and sort of here too. Forgive me. But they’re just plain neat! I can’t help myself.

On to the EVD – Well, the EVD is indeed all-electric which means its well-to-wheel fuel efficiency and overall emissions are significantly lower than any traditional gasoline hog. It also means you don’t contribute to the noise pollution of the world since it’s so quiet (while I love a good motorcycle, I’m not very keen on the roar of the engine). Also, when it comes to electric scooters, it goes pretty fast, unlike some which top out at about 25 MPH.

The reviews I’ve read have been highly favorable overall – the only drawbacks noted were with a bit of difficulty putting on the windshield, removing it from the shipping frame, the throttle is a bit sensitive, and it’s a heavy machine so it takes a little more effort to maneuver.

Where can you find it?
You can order the EVD (or the higher torque model, the EVD+ which has better climbing ability but a lower top speed of 40 MPH) directly from the RMartin Bikes website for a very reasonable price of $3,599. And you can get it in black, red, black/red, white/red, or blue (because clearly the paint job is the most important decision).

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

Into the Blue

by Richard T. Stuebi

Last week, the International Energy Agency released a study entitled Energy Technology Perspectives 2008, in which the agency estimated the shifts in the world’s energy system required to reduce CO2 emissions substantially.

In their so-called “BLUE” scenario (I haven’t figured out what “BLUE” refers to), a 50% CO2 reduction from 2005 levels by 2050 — what many scientists believe is about what needs to occur to stabilize the climate — is only achievable by tackling emission reductions that have a marginal cost of over $200/ton CO2. Ouch!

Even more provocatively, IEA estimates that the BLUE scenario would imply a widespread move to near-zero carbon buildings and the deployment a billion electric/hydrogen vehicles plus annual investments between 2010 and 2050 of 55 coal plants with carbon sequestration, 32 nuclear plants, 17,500 utility-scale wind turbines, and 215 million square meters of solar panels. By their accounts, this represents $45 trillion of investment above and beyond business as usual.

In IEA’s words, “BLUE is only possible if the whole world participates fully” in shifting to “a completely different energy system.”

Does anyone doubt the magnitude of the CleanTech challenge/opportunity in the coming decades?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

Be A Model Citizen In An Electric cityZENN

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: the electric cityZENN by ZENN Motors

What is it?
With the ZENN Hatchback neighborhood EV already on the road, ZENN Motors has been looking to get out their highway speed vehicle. Enter the cityZENN. With a planned top speed of 80 MPH and a range of 250 miles, the cityZENN will be powered by EEStor barium-titanate ceramic ultracapacitors.

Why is it better?
As we’ve seen, it looks like 2010 will be a big year for the electric car. And as gas prices go up, going electric will let you avoid the pump (and the emissions). ZENN reports that its operating costs will be 1/10th of a typical internal combustion engine. In fact, ZENN stands for zero-emission, no-noise. All of those aspects to the cityZENN are major bonuses.

The cityZENN is a great option for an EV because of its expected range (as a comparison, the Tesla Roadster has a range of 200 miles and the highway speed Myers Motors NmG, formerly known as the Corbin Sparrow, gets 30 miles per charge). With EEStor, which is currently operating more or less in stealth mode, the EV will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes.

Where can you find it?
Well, that’s the one drawback. You have to wait for the cityZENN. Right now the target launch is fall of 2009 (let’s just cross our fingers that doesn’t get pushed back).

But keep checking for updates on Huddler’s Green Home and on the ZENN Motor Company website.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.

Electric Cars for 2010

By John Addison (6/4/08). With oil prices rocketing past $130 per barrel, a growing number of vehicle makers are planning to offer electric vehicles by 2010. Zero gasoline will be used.

Over 40,000 electric vehicles (EV) are currently used in the United States. Most are used in fleet applications, from maintenance to checking parking meters; these EVs are mostly limited to 25 mph speed and 20 mile range. A growing number of fleet EVs, however, are early trails of a new generation of freeway-speed EVs that will be available to the mass consumer market in 2010.

Mitsubishi is on target to sell its electric vehicle in the U.S. in 2010. The i-EV is a friendly looking sub-compact which easily handles freeway speeds. It’s expected 100 mile-plus range per charge will meet the needs of urban dwellers and most in suburbia. The drive system uses three permanent magnetic synchronous motors which receive power from a 16kWh lithium battery stack. Tokyo Electric Power is currently testing ten i-EV

Nissan’s and Renault’s famous CEO, Carlos Ghosn, plans to be selling electric vehicles in the U.S. market in 2010. He anticipates more cities following London’s model of expensive congestion fees, with fee exemptions and preferred parking for zero-emission vehicles. In many markets, Nissan will offer electric vehicles with permanently installed lithium batteries that will be trickle charged. Nissan owns 51% of Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, which plans to be producing lithium batteries for 10,000 vehicles annually by 2010. Plant expansion has begun to produce lithium batteries for 60,000 electric vehicles annually.

By 2012, Ghosn plans to have a Renault-Nissan alliance offering a wide range of electric vehicles in many major markets, charging ahead of all competition. Economist Article

In Israel and Denmark, Renault and Nissan will partner with Project Better Place. to sell electric vehicles without batteries. Project Better Place will lease batteries that can be quickly exchanged at many locations. The exchange will take no longer than a traditional gasoline fill-up, appealing to motorists needing extended range. The battery lease will cost a fraction of what most now spend on gasoline.

Popular in Europe, Think will bring its electric vehicle to the U.S. Think city reaches a top speed of 65 miles per hour and can drive up to 110 miles on a single charge. Think city meets all European and US federal motor vehicle safety requirements. At the Geneva Motorshow earlier this year, Think announced a strategic partnership with energy giant General Electric, also an investor in Think. By 2011 look for a larger TH!NK Ox. Think has also established partnerships in the US with battery suppliers A123 and EnerDel. Think has established a U.S. headquarters and will begin sales in the U.S. before 2010. A123 Technology Review Article

In 2009, the smart ev may be available in the U.S. The cars 70/70 specs are appealing for city drivers: 70 mile range, 70 mile per hour freeway speed. Daimler’s smart ev is in trail in the UK with the Energy Saving Trust, Islington and Coventry Councils, Lloyds Pharmacy, EDF Energy, BT, and other fleets. To achieve a range of 72 miles, it is using the Zebra sodium-nickel-chloride battery which has caused maintenance difficulties in some U.S. fleets.

The cityZENN is planned for a top speed of 80 mph and a range of 250 miles. Powered by EEStor barium-titanate ceramic ultracapacitors, the cityZENN will be rechargeable in less than 5 minutes! Venture capitalists are betting that stealth EEStor is real. On Friday, May 30, ZENN Motor Company announced that it had raised another $15 million dollars.

Most major auto makers continue to believe that most U.S. customers will insist on ranges exceeding 250 miles and a national infrastructure of fuel refilling (or recharging) in five minutes. Even as GM announces factory closings and plummeting sales, CEO Richard Wagner states that GM is committed to bring the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt to market by the end of 2010. If it can deliver at under $30,000, the vehicle will offer tough competition to some of the smaller EV players.

As Toyota solidifies its number one global market share leadership, it also remains on target to deliver a plug-in hybrid to the U.S. market by the end of 2010. It is likely to have an all-electric range of 40 miles and a gasoline range 10X that amount. Watch Toyota use an expanded line of hybrid vehicles to unset GM, making Toyota the market leader is the U.S.

May rained on every auto maker’s parade in the U.S., except Honda, which set sales records with its fuel efficient Civic. Honda is passing Chrysler to become the #4 seller in the U.S. Honda is rumored to be bringing a new hybrid to the U.S. next year priced in the mid-teens. This will give hybrids a big boost in market share from the current 3% of total vehicle sales.

While I was giving a speech at the Fuel Cell 2008 , Honda announced that it would lease 200 Clarity FCX hydrogen fuel cell cars for $600 per month, including maintenance. In June, it will start selecting from 50,000 who have expressed interest in the 270-mile range four-door sedan. The FCX Clarity is aerodynamic and beautifully styled. Honda’s new hybrid is likely to have a similar body style.

Some critics have dismissed electric vehicles as golf carts for retirees and sport car toys for millionaires. These critics have missed a fundamental market shift that started with the success of hybrid-electric cars, light electric vehicles, and with e-scooters. Customer enthusiasm for electric vehicles is the result of many factors:

  • Oil Prices
  • ZEV Cities & Congestion Tax
  • Electronic drive simplifies auto design
  • Vehicle weight reduction with electric accessories and components
  • Reduced maintenance because of few mechanical components
  • GHG Regulation
  • Battery technology advances that reduce cost and weight
  • Increased battery safety
  • Success of hybrid-electrics

At the FRA Renewable Energy Investor Conference (my presentation handouts), I led a panel discussion about electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Major private equity and project finance investors were optimistic in sessions about electric vehicles, solar power, wind power, and carbon trading. Many expressed discouragement in the biofuels sessions, but at the same time saw increased opportunities with bioenergy and bio-methane from landfills.

In a few years, millions will be driving full-featured freeway-speed four-door sedan electric vehicles. Look for a shift away from foreign oil to riding on local renewable energy.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report and speaks at transportation and energy conferences.

Battery Breakthrough?

by Richard T. Stuebi

I recently was sent an article about electric cars. It profiles the Lightning GT, a 700 hp electric sports car that can accelerate to sixty mph in four seconds. To me, the news is not so much about the Lightning GT as it is about the batteries being used in the car.

The claim is that the battery, a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) type called Nanosafe being developed by a company called Altairnano, is able to provide a useful operating range of 250 miles, a full recharge time of 10 minutes, and a useful life of 12-20 years through 15,000 charge/discharge cycles.

If a battery can produce this kind of performance, and if large-scale production can enable the battery pack to be profitably sold at a few thousand dollars, mass adoption of electric vehicles cannot be far behind. This is because recharging an electric car from an socket produces a “fuel” that costs about the equivalent of $0.60 per gallon — about 1/6th the current cost of gasoline at the pump.

That’s a game-changer that could end our addiction to oil. While potentially a big threat to the big petro-companies, such a development would be a huge boon to electric utilities, which all of a sudden would have a major overnight load to soak up off-peak excess capacity.

And, the big long-term winner would be the environment. Even if the electricity comes from coal, the emissions profile of an all-electric car is much better than even a highly-efficient gasoline or diesel car. If the electricity is produced by renewables such as solar and wind, then we’re talking about virtually a zero-carbon car.

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.

General Motors Looks Beyond Oil

By John Addison. “One of the most serious business issues currently facing General Motors is our product’s near total dependence on petroleum as a source of energy. To address this issue, we have been implementing a strategy to displace petroleum through energy diversity and efficiency,” explained Dr. Larry Burns, Vice-President of Research and Development for General Motors, during his keynote speech on April 2 at the National Hydrogen Association (NHA) Conference.

When Dr. Burns speaks, the industry listens because he directly influences the future of General Motors and of the auto industry. March was one of the worst in years for all vehicle makers. GM and Chrysler saw a 19% drop in sales; Honda a more modest 3% drop. There was a direct correlation in sales loss and fuel efficiency. GM and Chrysler fleets gulp oil refined fuels; Honda’s takes large sips.

Make no mistake, GM is determined to be less dependent on oil as Larry Burns clearly stated, “We view renewable biofuels, electricity, and hydrogen as the most promising alternative energy carriers for automobiles. We are working very hard and fast on all three fronts to develop and implement meaningful technology solutions that provide our customers with a range of choices from “gas-friendly to gas-free” vehicles.” Next generation biofuels, however, will likely take years to get from labs to large scale production. When available, they will primarily be blended with gasoline and diesel, rather than requiring new stations. GM, and other auto makers, is frustrated to see hydrogen in only a few dozen stations globally.

Electricity is the most promising alternative fuel for GM and most auto makers. Electric motors are far more efficient than gasoline engines. Electric motors are used in hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. In late 2010, General Motors will start selling the Chevrolet Volt, a plug-in hybrid that will give many drivers 100 miles per gallon of gasoline, because it will primarily run on electricity. In three years, consumers may have multiple plug-in choices including Toyota’s planned offering.

The Volt is an implementation of E-Flex. GM’s E-Flex is an electric drive system centered on advanced batteries delivering power to an electric motor. Additional electricity can be delivered by a small engine coupled to a generator, or by a hydrogen fuel cell. In the future GM could elect to implement E-Flex in a pure battery-electric vehicle.

Over two million vehicles now use electric motors and advanced batteries, thanks to the early success of hybrids. Electric drive systems will continue their strong growth as they are implemented in battery electric vehicles, hybrids, plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

The plug-in hybrids’ big competition will be battery electric vehicles (EV). London’s congestion tax is cascading into a growing number of cities that will require zero-emission vehicles. Announced EV offerings are coming by 2010 from Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and emerging players such as Smart, Think, Tesla, Miles, and a host of Asian companies that will display at the upcoming China Auto Show. With the average U.S. household having two vehicles, these EVs would be perfect for the 80% of U.S. driving requires far less than 100 miles per day.

Where does this leave hydrogen? Fleets. Hydrogen’s fleet use continues to grow, especially in public transportation. Three factors are contributing to the growth of hydrogen vehicles: energy security, success of natural gas vehicles, and the growth of electric vehicles.

Hydrogen delivers energy security by being available from a wide range of sources including waste hydrogen from industrial processes, electrolysis of water, biosources, and steam reformation of natural gas. Where truck delivery is avoided, all of these approaches significantly reduce greenhouse gases, source-to-wheels, in comparison to diesel, gasoline, and current biofuel alternatives. Emission Comparisons from LCFS

In transportation, hydrogen may be the long-term successor to natural gas. There are about five million natural gas vehicles in operation globally. Over 90% of the natural gas used in the USA is from North America. Transportation use of natural gas has doubled in only five years. Natural gas vehicles are popular in fleets that carry lots of people: buses, shuttles, and taxis.

Natural gas is primarily hydrogen. The molecule is four hydrogen atoms and one carbon. Steam reformation makes hydrogen from CH4 and H2O. Hydrogen is used in fuel cell electric vehicles with far better fuel economy than the natural gas engine vehicles that they replace. For example, at Sunline Transit, their hydrogen fuel cell bus is achieving 2.5 times the fuel economy of a similar CNG bus on the same route. Specifically 7.37GGE to the CNG vehicle’s 2.95GGE. Sunline has a new fuel cell bus on order with even great expected gains. NREL Report

Most early adapters of hydrogen vehicles are natural gas fleet owners with vehicles that use compressed natural gas. Some fleets are mixing hydrogen with natural gas and running it in the existing CNG vehicles. A common approach is a 20% blend with minor changes such as timing in existing engines.

Public transportation is hydrogen’s biggest success. The San Francisco Bay Area is now upgrading from six hydrogen fuel cell buses to twelve. The area will grow from carrying two thousand passengers a day on hydrogen, to five thousand, using lighter next generation drive systems with fuel cells whose warranties have expanded from 1,000 hours to 12,000 hours.

For the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler will use twenty hydrogen fuel cell buses which will transport over 100,000 visitors during the games, then continue as the majority of Whistler’s fleet.

Although hydrogen will grow in fleets that can install the fueling and the vehicles, it will be many years before average consumers consider hydrogen vehicles. Outside of Southern California there is a lack of public infrastructure. To achieve a range of 300 miles, most auto makers want high pressure (700 bar). In California, only Irvine offers the higher pressure. GM is putting nine temporary 700 bar fuelers in Southern California. GM is also putting another 100 hydrogen vehicles on the road. Project Driveway Article

Honda is ahead of all other hydrogen vehicle makers in offering its acclaimed FCX Clarity for $600 per month. It does fine with the 350 bar pressure offered at California’s 24 hydrogen stations and delivers a 270 mile range. The vehicle will probably only be offered to select individuals in California communities where public stations are available such as Irvine, Torrance and Santa Monica. Even for Honda, Fuel Cell Marketing Manager Steve Ellis observes that “Success with hydrogen is more like a marathon than a sprint.”

To succeed, all businesses must monitor their industry, looking for points of inflection that lead to a new paradigm. In talking with Larry Burns at the NHA conference he told me that he has seen the signs since 2001. 9/11, Katrina, and oil prices have signaled major changes. All the world’s major economies from the USA to China are highly dependent on imported oil. Dr. Burns now concludes that in 2008 we are at a tipping point.

He stated, “We truly are at a defining point in the development of the technology. What and how we execute over the next 5 years will shape the next 50 years!…Together, we must act rather than debate, create the future rather than try to predict it, and solve the challenges we face now rather than handing these challenges off to future generations.”

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report. He will be leading a panel about PHEV and EV at the FRA Renewable Energy Conference and presenting “The Great Fuel Race” at Fuel Cell 2008.

A Beautiful Electric Blur

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: Tesla Roadster

What is it?
As John Addison mentioned in a Cleantechblog post last year, there are quite a few electric cars on the horizon. The Tesla Roadster is one of them. Now, finally in its regular production page, the Tesla shows that the electric car can be one sexy ride. This little number isn’t just nice to look at, it’s fast too – it goes 0 to 60 MPH in under 4 seconds.

Why is it better?
According to one of Tesla Motors’ white papers, the Roadster has a well-to-wheel fuel efficiency of 1.15 km per megajoule (that considers the entire life cycle of the fuel, from its state as a raw fuel to the point when it rotates the wheel of the car). Those units might not make sense to you right off the bat, but when you compare that to the well-to-wheel efficiency of a conventionally run sports car (take the Porshe Turbo with a 6 cylinder gasoline engine) which comes in at 0.22 km per megajoule, it’s clear that the Tesla wins. If you prefer thinking in miles per gallon, try this one on for size. The Tesla gets the equivalent of 135 MPG.

What about the carbon dioxide? As with the Vectrix, I’m sure there are folks who know that electric cars that take electricity from coal-fired grids still have some emissions associated with them. Well, based on the typical electricity source mixture, the Tesla Roadster emits one seventh of the CO2 emissions from that little Porshe (again, that’s well-to-wheel).

But on top of that, I’ll tell you one of my favorite things about the Tesla. It’s not its sweet design (created with the help of Lotus). It’s not that great quiet electric whirr. It’s the car company’s relationship with SolarCity. SolarCity is working to offer Tesla customers photovoltaic panels for their roofs to power their vehicles.

The first time I saw a Tesla Roadster, I cried out with sheer joy (yep, out loud). And then I was a real nerd and took some pictures on my cell phone. But, oh, it was worth it.

Where can you find it?
After a few delays, the Tesla is finally in full production. Unless you’re already on the list, you’re out of luck for getting any of the 600-ish 2008 models, but Tesla Motors has started a wait list for the 2009 model year. If you want to get on that list (behind folks like the Google founders and George Clooney), be prepared to shell out $5,000 to start and end up with a final cost somewhere around $98,950.

If you’re in Europe, you’re in luck. Yesterday, Tesla announced that reservations are now being taken for European customers who want their Teslas delivered as early as the spring of 2009 (for more details, see the press release below).

Otherwise, if you’re like me, you can admire them from afar as soon as the showrooms open in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products. She is shamelessly self-promoting a contest in which a few product reviews could win you cool green stuff, not a Tesla, but still cool.

Press Release:
Tesla Motors Initiates European Sales

Source: Tesla Motors

Date: April 9th, 2008

The Tesla Roadster, a groundbreaking electric car that delivers super car performance with zero emissions and extreme energy efficiency, can now be reserved by European customers for delivery starting in the Spring of 2009.

Production of 250 special edition euro-spec Roadsters will be allocated for the entire EU region for 2009. This special edition, fully loaded car is priced at 99,000 Euro (excluding VAT) and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Residents in the EU and UK can reserve a car by contacting Tesla at or calling +1 650-413-6200.

The Tesla Roadster went into production in the U.S. on March 17, 2008. Over 1000 U.S. customers have reserved a Tesla Roadster. While U.S. demand is likely to exceed production capacity in 2009, this special allocation of 250 euro-spec roadsters will be reserved for the first European customers.

Tesla Motors Vice President of Sales, Marketing & Service, Darryl Siry, talked about Tesla’s expansion plans and the attractiveness of the European market on the company blog at , stating “since we launched the Tesla Roadster in the US, there has been extraordinary interest from European customers and media. Now that we are in production, we are excited to offer this groundbreaking car to Europeans who want to be the first on the continent to drive a car with extraordinary performance, beautiful styling, and zero emissions.”

The first official display of the Tesla Roadster in Europe will be at the Top Marques Monaco event from April 24th through April 27th. Information on the event can be found at Tesla officials will be on hand to greet customers and media.

Ride It Hard, Fast, and Electric

by Cristina Foung

My favorite green product of the week: Vectrix Electric Maxi-Scooter

What is it?
The Vectrix is an electric motorcycle that has a top speed of 62 MPH (100 km/h) and goes 0 to 50 in 6.8 seconds. At a constant speed of 25 MPH, the Vectrix has a range of 65 miles (with an average of 35 to 55 miles). Its battery pack recharges with a standard 110/220V outlet in about two hours.

Why is it better?
Being all electric, the Vectrix is a zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) – that’s zero carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. I’m sure there are readers out there shaking their heads, saying “Zero emissions! Doesn’t exist! The battery has to be charged and that usually means a coal-fired plant and that means emissions.” Well, you’re partially right. In the whole lifecycle of the Vectrix construction and use, there are emissions.

However, according to the California Air Resources Board definition of a ZEV, battery electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles count as ZEVs as they have no “tailpipe emissions and are 98% cleaner than the average new model year vehicle.” But either way you look at the ZEV argument, you have to admit, the Vectrix far and away surpasses the traditional gasoline-powered scooter that can produce up to ten times the pollution of the average automobile (according to a Vectrix pamphlet).

So not only is the Vectrix easier on the environment, of course it saves money for you as you pass up the gas pump and the oil changes. It requires very minimal maintenance and the Nickel Metal Hydride battery pack has an estimated life of 10 years. It’s also very quiet (if you’re a fan of roaring engines, it’s probably not for you).

I personally have not ridden a Vectrix but I hear they handle quite well and are very reliable. Hopefully after this, I’ll be able to convince a friend to test drive one (and let me sit on the back).

Plus, if the New York and Sacramento police departments, the Department of Defense, John Kerry, and Leonardo DiCaprio like the Vectrix, it must be worth looking into.

Where can you find it?
You can buy the Vectrix from a variety of dealers all around the world or have a representative contact you directly by filling out a form on the Vectrix website. The 2007 model costs $9,999.00. The 2008 model costs $11,990.00.

Vectrix is also coming out with a pretty cool looking electric three wheel motorcycle in Q4 2008. This one will cost $15,990 and you can reserve one today with a $1,500 deposit.

Besides her green products column on Cleantech Blog, Cristina is a passionate advocate for green living at the Green Home Huddle at, which focuses on electric cars, energy efficient appliances, and other green products.